NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has defended January 26 as the date Australia Day should be celebrated.
Some Australians oppose the national day being marked on that date because it is a day of mourning for Indigenous Australians.
But the NSW Premier said it should be seen as a day of unity.
“It’s not so much the date that everyone appreciates, it’s celebrating our national day, celebrating a time when we all look to each other and realise the values that allow us, perhaps unlike any other country on the planet to be as strong and resilient as we are,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
But when asked a direct question whether the national day should be moved, Ms Berejiklian said no.
“I don’t think we should. What I’m trying to say is the values that bring us all together, it’s the feeling of pride, the equality of opportunity, a fair go … That’s what all of us should focus on.”
Australia is unusual in being a former colony that celebrates the day the colonists took over. Many other Commonwealth nations mark their national days on the date of independence from the British, not the date the colony was settled by them.
For many Aboriginal Australians January 26 is a day of mourning, while for those who celebrate that date it’s one of national pride.
Australia Day celebrations often include events to honour Aboriginal history, including Sydney’s WugulOra Morning Ceremony which Ms Berejiklian has attended yearly since she became Premier.
A new Ipsos poll showed strong support for Australia Day in its current form, with 48 per cent opposed to changing the date, according to Nine newspapers.
The poll found 28 per cent agreed the date should be changed, with stronger support for that viewpoint among younger people.
Ms Berejiklian acknowledged there were different opinions about the celebration but said those that oppose it have the choice of declining to partake.
“People have the freedom to stay at home and not participate, people have the freedom to express those views. But I think the vast majority of Australia appreciate what tomorrow means,” she said.
“Yes, we have a difference in opinion. We see things differently from how our fellow citizens might. But let’s use it as an opportunity to work together … Let’s use it as an opportunity to work together in the future if there are those issues of difference we want to be resolved in the future.”